The Wrap Up!

Hello fellow linguist in the making! We have had an amazing time discussing how language and race plays out in media this semester. We’ve laughed at ridiculous representations of black southern voices, we’ve judged a News anchor for verbally bullying a young and optimistic college student and we even played a whole hour and 15 minutes worth of Grand Theft Auto! (Plays “it’s so hard, to say goodbye to YESTERDAY” in the background faintly) Although we don’t want all this fun to end, sadly it’s time to wrap it all up into a neat bow, so here’s 5 take aways from our semester of analyzing, transcribing and discussing race, language and the media!

1. Live by CDA a.k.a Cultural Discourse Analysis when approaching a text. CDA is a tool used by linguist to dissect diverse text, the audiences in which the text is appealing to and specific linguistic structures and tools in which both the speaker and interlocutor must obtain to understand the text.

For example:
In a world where our media, News outlets in particular is heavily radicalized, there are certain cues that we as audiences identify and associate to particular groups through speech markers that the Anchors and reporters use. In other words, we are pretty much trained to read between the lines!blog 1

Ignore the photos for a second and just look at the language here. One young man is described as a “Suspect” who although may or may not have shot up a Theater is a “brilliant science student” while the other is fully named and only story is that he “Struggled with Officers before [a] shooting.” Neither of these headlines right out state the race of these boys but the language works to give us a clear image of their race.

  1. Language is used intentionally to perpetuate stereotypes and tropes of different groups. Not convinced by the twitter posting to above?

Let’s look at Disney!

“Bad” characters are usually associated with darker attributes, speak with a foreign accent or use African American English. “Good” characters on the other hand, speak GAE and are usually associated with light, purity and let’s face it, WHITENESS! Hint to why the only Black Disney princess is a frog for most of the movie and even though Jasmine, Mulan and Pocahontas are technically of colored and are voiced by woman of color, they still use standard American English.

blog 2

Lost in the sauce right now? or Simply in Denial?

Hang on because maybe Disney’s subliminal perpetuation of race and use of stereotyping to teach children good from bad is not something you are willing to believe and I get it we were raised in the “Disney is life” era.

  1. BUT let’s be real! Minstrel Shows prove that media has been using linguistic tools toperform race far beyond the 80’s and 90’s. In the Jasmine x2 post of minstrel shows we got a bitter taste of how both Blacks and Whites mocked the Black experience, or what white writers perceived to be the Black experience through putting on musical numbers where both Black and White performers dressed up in Black face.

blog minstrel 1As stated in their post, “The primary black characters depicted in minstrel shows such as the Uncle Toms, care free Sambos, Mammies, Coons, Brutes, and Pickaninies were invented strategically by White people to reinforce white ideas about the inferior nature of blacks and the merits of continuing their degradation” (Taylor & Austen).

By listening to these Minstrel shows in class we got to experience first hand how these shows built an imagined image of Blackness, misused AAE and worked to further belittle Black bodies. It only continued as we dove into Blacks in films during the early 20th century. We learned that the roles produced in minstrel shows carried on into other forms of media as mainstream America continued to build upon the nostalgic view on American History.

Exhibit A:

Gone With The Wind, just about every Black trope from early Minstrel shows are brought to light and slaves are not only naïve but are shaped to seem completely happy with their position as second hand citizens.


Mini Side bar: Don’t forget how Black Comedians have used language to reshape the image of Black characters and use attributes of AAE (Habitual “Be”, Done, marking, cursing etc.) to talk about black topics and appeal to black audiences while still being able to speak to mainstream audiences.

  1. FUBU: For Us By Us…

If you’re feeling like I am ragging on Film’s portrayal of race, here’s a break as we reflect on the 1990-Present Black films. (My personal favorite topic that we touched upon) One thing that we should have all taken from this unit was that Black Films instilled a sense of Black pride in Black viewers and reimaged the tropes associated with Black Actors. No longer where the simply samboos, mammies and Jezebels, Black actor’s roles were expanded as Blaxploitation Films surfaced opening up the doors for more diverse views of the Black experience. Following these 70’s films were a bunch of Black movies that although were rooted in the “buppie,” “buddy” and “ghetto” storylines, still worked to produce films that are considered classics in Black America.

blog 4Finally, Blacks were beginning to be able to tell their own stories and have a say in how they were presented in mainstream America.

Sidebar: It was just a plus that these movies helped to publicize and promote Black rap music, which at the time was being heavily censored due to the truths woven into the lyrics.

  1. Last but Definitely Not Least… The Discourse never ends

Our Latino Dynamic Duo left their mark in discussing how Black Twitter has added to the way Blacks use language to advocate for and express blackness. They also discussed how social media has worked to put out information at a faster and much more accessible rate. In few characters we can stand in solidarity, pray for a country that is thousands of miles away and as Taylor Jones, taught us declare that we “write like we talk.”

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So here is the Real Rap Raw:

We have spent a whole semester analyzing language within multiple text, discussing different forms of media and pin pointing how race is utilized when these text. Where do we go from here you ask?

Well…we continue the discourse, of course. As social media continues to advance and we are prompted to rely on it as our source of expression, news and knowledge we should all hold on to these tools that we have gathered to read beyond the text. We should always identify what we bring as audiences and how that impacts how we are receiving the text. In sum, we AFS 250 should from this class on never look at a text and not notice who it’s appealing to, what it is saying on a larger scale and what we are bringing to the text.

Now fly on my fellow linguist and CDA the heck out of everrrthang! #ThatsAllFolks

written by: Ja’Nai Harris

19 thoughts on “The Wrap Up!”

  1. Firstly, I enjoyed the humor used throughout the post, and how you pulled from all of the topics we’ve discussed thus far, and even used quotes from former posts. I think your post does a good job at summarizing some key take aways, and concluding our semester long course. Secondly, you have a good variety of videos and images that help support your post throughout. There seems to be an emphasis on CDA, and while it’s important I wish the post spoke a bit more on language itself in the more theoretical sense. However, I think your blog gets to the point of all of the major topics we’ve studied in a way that’s tangible. Good Job Ja’Nai for doing this all by your self!

  2. I really enjoyed the open paragraph of the blog as it was a quick reminder of everything that we have learned about this semester. This being said, I found the first bullet point to be the most interesting of the five. I think that this is because it the most relevant and obvious of the points. Everyday when I search the internet I come across news headlines and before I took this class I did not really think about the headlines very much and how they are twisted to fit the article and sway the opinion of the reader. The two articles shown in the blog post displayed this exact situation. A white shooter as a “brilliant student” and showed Michael Brown as a “struggled”. This is a clear discrimination against the black man. I think that the blog post as a whole really summarized our class in a very clear, concise and accurate way. This class has taught me that language is used in a very specific way to make specific points in the media. This is used in ways that will appeal to the mass market, instead of being politically and morally correct.

  3. I enjoyed this blog post due to the humorous tone and how concise and thorough the post was. Ja’Nai did a great job with breaking down the course into one post. I appreciated how you incorporated some of the key terms from articles that we read such as “buppie” and the use of habitual “be”. The use of images especially for the CDA portion of the post made it clear through the use of language that is incorporated in news outlets. This post was a great way to end the blog posts. Good job Ja’Nai !

  4. I really enjoyed this blog post and the tone that was used made it more fun to read. I particularly enjoyed #1 about CDA. I think that because we live in an era where social media and online news sources are so popular, it is the most relevant to us. So many news sources can take the same news story but put a twist or bias into it simply by changing a few words. It is always interesting when reading an article to the diction that is presented. Some websites that do not even have a reputation for bias in their writing use words that present the story in a slanted view. On top of the diction used, the picture presented in articles can have put a huge bias on the story. Subtle changes like these can sometimes sway our opinion on a story without us even realizing it.

  5. Ja’Nai, I think you did an excellent job of summarizing all that we’ve learned this semester, which has truly been a lot. We’ve covered many different topics, and you captured all of that without making the post too long or leaving anything out. Like some others who have already commented, I enjoyed your use of humor throughout the post, which made it fun to read and it sounded authentic. I also appreciated the way that you broke the post up with lots of paragraph breaks and numbered topics. Finally, in a summarizing post, it would have been easy to leave out examples, but I like that you didn’t forget to include examples (photos and videos) throughout the post. Great job!

  6. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the “wrap-up” blog post, but with that said, I was very pleasantly surprised not only with the information, but also with how clear Ja’Nai’s tone and voice came through, and with the way that the blog was broken up. I also appreciate that each one of the “take aways” can be applied to our lives not only after the course ends, but also in our lives as a whole. I specifically like the take away in which the application of cultural discourse analysis to our lives is explored. I think it is very important to look at all pieces of information objectively and analytically; that way, information from even the seemingly most viable sources are not immediately taken as facts due to the realization that all reported information is affected by the culture that surrounds it. Great job!

  7. This blog post was really insightful and I enjoyed reading it. I can’t believe the semester is over. It seems like the time went by so quickly, but in that short amount of time I’ve learned plenty. I now know how to analyze media portrayals which is important due to the fact that many forms of media depict the black race negatively. The topic that I found the most interesting was the one about minstrel shows. In high school my English professor touched upon it but I never really had the chance to grasp what it really was. Learning about these shows made me angry because of all the things my ancestors experienced but that just adds on to everything we have overcome. Blacks make progress every day by proving many stereotypes wrong. To add on, blacks are heavily marginalized and it is important for people to understand the way African Americans are depicted. This linguistic class does just that which gives young students a chance to learn how to read the media. People must understand what is going on around them in order to see positive changes be enacted. We have made progress over the past generations but there is still a lot of work to be done. Coming into this class I didn’t know what to expect but I’m happy I had the chance to assimilate everything the media is actually doing.

  8. As all of the other comments have said, Ja’Nai you did a fantastic job on the post. I thought your summary of the information from this semester was very thought out and you highlighted the main points well, not leaving anything out. It is always nice to have this wrap-up of all we discussed to connect the dots (so to speak) on all we have learned. I thought it was great that you added the section on minstrelsy. Like Keyshla said, minstrel shows where something that was briefly mentioned in my classes, but never discussed in the same depth as we did in class. It was really interesting to see how the minstrel shows effected representations of the black population and also provided a frame of reference. Before starting this class I knew of these issues discussed in the post from the view point of the current era, but I had little knowledge on how they started. For this reason I thought it was great that we “went back in time”, examining the issues from the 19th century, but then looked at the current issues with the 19th century lens to understand why we face the current racial issues.

  9. Ja’Nai excellent job on this final blog post. It is nice to recap what we have learned throughout the semester. I particularly liked the end of your blog post when you discussed how social media and other news sources will continue to fill our lives with “knowledge” We must remember what we’ve learned this semester in terms of reading beyond the text using different discourse analysis techniques. We need to adopt these techniques in order to steer clear of the stereotypes that are embedded in our daily news platforms.

  10. This was one of my favorite posts. I felt that throughout the whole post there was a humorous yet intelligent voice. It tied all the parts together that we’ve talked about together in a nice concise way (Which is hard to do because we talked about a lot). I really enjoyed that you put the entire semester into 5 simple steps because that is very blog-like and one of the ways we talked about when trying to write an effective blog. The examples that you used, news articles, Disney movies, minstrel shows, older movies and twitter tied all the different types of media that we talked about together and I am glad you incorporated not only what we talked about but how it is normally portrayed.

  11. I’m LOVING you guys! This was the first time I’ve taught this course and I think that I might do a few things differently in the future, but it’s really important to me that we covered new material or that we covered familiar material in a new way. Thank you, everyone– our discussions were the best part of the course. I hope that you never consume at media in the same way again. 🙂

  12. I really enjoyed reading/watching this blog! I think you did an excellent job identifying the main components of this course in addition to the most interesting and thought-provoking. I very much enjoyed the cartoon character language analyses we did of Disney characters and other animation characters. Professor, I am looking forward to reading your book, and actually being able to understand the discourse discussions therein. This exposure to race identities in our world will enable me to go forth more aware and conscientious of race that exists implicitly in everyday life.

  13. This was an excellent wrap up of the semester we had! You did a wonderful job highlighting the main points of the semester. Along side the highlights, you included specific examples in which you incorporated your own voice which made the blog much more personal and enjoyable to read. On of my favorite topics of this semester that was highlighted was the Minstrel Show topic and you did a great job summing it up. This class taught me many things about race in the media that I have never thought of before or even considered so it has really opened my eyes to problems in our society that I did not realize before. Overall, you did a great job with the blog, easily summing it up with 5 subjects and including very relatable examples.

  14. I think was a phenomenal wrap up blog post because it brought everything together in ways that may have been missed during the semester. It was really interesting seeing the progress of the semester and how the information grew upon each other, like how Minstrel Shows had influence into radio, early film, and eventually later film. I enjoyed reading (and learning) about how subtle messages through the media may be missed because people aren’t necessarily looking for them, but journalists and other media sources purposely include them to further portray a specific message or theme. Looking back, we learned so much about unique aspects of academics that aren’t widely covered. Intertwining linguistics, media studies, and race studies is rare and I think we had a great opportunity as students to take this course and think about normal aspects of society in this way.

  15. This was probably one of my favorite blog posts to read. It is certainly sad that we are almost done with the class, but look back, we have learned so much. I really like the example that you used about Michael Brown and the “suspect” that gunned down a theater. It really is horrible how the media has such a huge effect on our perceptions of different topics. More people should be made aware of the language used and how to read the real story rather than a twisted one with bias language.

  16. I thought you did a fantastic job summing up all the material we learned throughout the semester, Ja’Nai. I think you covered the information on every topic without going into too much detail, which makes for an excellent summary. I like how you emphasized the way we looked at language and how it is used in the media to portray certain stereotypes, and also how these portrayals were misrepresented throughout history of the media. I’m glad you included the twitter posts comparing the use of language to represent two young adults of different race in the news because that is something that still fascinates me and is often overlooked. Great job including humor and enthusiasm in the post as well!

  17. I feel that you did an excellent job wrapping up the semester in your blog. I found the news article describing the deaths of the two teens to be the most interesting. Even though the white student was still a mass murder, the news article describes him as a bright chemist. The photos that were chosen also say a lot about the media bias. The photo of the colored boy shows him in a basketball jersey flashing what could be interpreted as a gang sign. However, the white student is dressed nicely for a school picture. The mammy character in gone with the wind reminds me of Beulah, the black servant working for a white family. Both charters look very similar and serve the same role, catering to their white bosses.

  18. Thank you for wrapping up the blog posts in such a unique way. I really felt like I could hear you as I read through the blog. My favorite topic that you brought up in your synopsis of the semester was the role that Disney has played. Language is a strong indicator of someones race and ethnicity. I had never really noticed that all the “good” characters all portrayed whiteness, while on the other hand, the “bad” characters were portrayed with lexicon and accents belonging to minorities. Even when they have portrayed the minority as the “good” character they replace their speech with GAE. You also mention how the media “is heavily radicalized”. I think one of the most powerful things we have gone over this semester is the media’s ability to control what people perceive. You give the example of the language and the pictures of two people who commit crimes. I immediately thought of the “if they gunned me down” movement. When we touched on it in class I had never heard of it, but after I did some research and it was amazing what I found. Students, police officers, and other professionals were posting pictures in their professional clothes next to pictures of them in their casual clothes. We have always been taught that a picture speaks a thousand words. This could not be more true to this point. No matter what people think, most people will immediately stereotype a criminal by the picture shown by the media. Again I really enjoyed the flow and comedic (yet serious) tone of your blog post.

  19. Hey Ja’Nai! I loved this final recap because you hit all the key points. This semester was jam packed but you summarized it all so seamlessly. My favorite part of this course was looking into Disney and other children’s media like games such as Grand Theft Auto. As a child, I was so ignorant to these underlying messages and intentional use of language. Realizing how race and language interact and create underlying meanings now has me rethinking shows and games I once enjoyed so much. Basically, my childhood is ruined. Just kidding, jokes. But seriously, it’s good to be aware and I promise to continue to look at text/media with this new lens. (Also, thanks for the shout out!) I will honestly miss this class. Best, 1/2 of the Latina Dynamic Duo aka Emily

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